This forum is the best.. Some advice for a newbie

Well, I am so glad to find this place! I thought I was an army of one in my quest. Brief bit about me and some questions for you experts…

UK National, 42, 2 kids and a hubby, here on a green card.

I graduated high school in '83 with an OK exam showing for one reason and another, but was always good at Science generally. Went to work in Technology and Marketing practice and teaching, qualifications since then:

Advanced Dip in IT UK University(92)

Post Grad Dip in Marketing UK University (2001)

Masters in Marketing UK University (2003) (GPA’s not sure how that works ).

Wanting to be a doctor has been a thorn in my side since high school, at that time, you had one shot, if you didn’t make it, it was almost impossible to erase the past high school performance, so I sadly tried to move on.

We are now in a position to do this and my hubby is like, “go for it - why not???”

Here are the questions I have for you all (after reading Richards rules and being able to answer yes to just about all)

  1. Would a Post Bacc and good MCAT get me a sniff of a med school? Rutgers NJ offers a Cert Postbac and a non cert PostBac (the latter does not have the GPA requirement). Just saying they won’t let me on the Cert course using my UK quals, is there any point in doing the non cert, i.e. does it carry any weight at all?

  2. Would I be better to go do a degree - then MCAT and Med School?

  3. What do you think about joint MD/Biology degrees?

    Any advice guys as I start this journey.



Hi Karen, and welcome!

I feel like a broken record on this today, but I think you should start by contacting admissions advising staff at a few medical schools. I say this because you have a couple of potential issues.

One is the green card. I don’t know any hard facts on this, but it has been my impression that it is very difficult for non-US citizens to get into US medical schools. Is US citizenship a possibility in the next couple of years?

Another is the non-US college work. Again, it has been my impression that US med schools hesitate to accept non-US college coursework because they don’t know how to compare it to US coursework. Probably not fair, as much international work is probably more rigorous than US college work. The fact that the post-bacc program won’t accept your UK work for their certificate program tells me that you are going to have issues with medical schools accepting your UK degrees.

I have a gut instinct that your best path is going to pursue a BS degree here in the US. If you can find a US institution that will count your UK work towards a degree, you might be able to cut down on the amount of time needed for that. Because of the foreign degree issues, just doing a post-bacc and the MCAT may severely limit the number of medical schools that will consider you.

As for joint MD/Biology degrees, assuming that you are referring to joint BS/MD degrees, they are probably not an option for you. BS/MD programs are really geared towards students directly out of high school and not towards non-traditional students. They are VERY competitive and usually have very rigorous standards for staying in the program. As a rule, most joint MD programs that you apply to when applying to med school are pretty competitive. It’s actually easier to get accepted into a joint degree program AFTER starting medical school.

I hope this helps. I wouldn’t hesitate to contact medical schools and ask them about your citizenship status and foreign university degrees. I think their replies will give you a better idea of how you need to approach this.

Thanks for the advice, I have calls in to my two nearest Med Schools so I will see what they say, but I think you are dead right, my gut tells me that I need to get cracking on my degree.

The green card is the only criteria I know for sure I will be OK on, as most say you have to be either a Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) or US Citizen at time of application. In any instance, we can apply for citizenship in 2009 so timeline should be OK, even if I do come across a school who like to see this.

Thanks again


Hi Karen,

As an international student - a greencard holder as well - I can tell you that it is possible for non- US citizens to get into US Medical Schools. First, you will need to gather your paperwork - non-US college work - to do a course-by-course equivalency to get all your GPA’s.

You will need to enroll on a 4 year program - Biology Pre-Med to do your science courses.

Good luck!


Thanks for jumping in. Not many of us on here are international students, so we don’t have a lot of great advice to give.

I know there have been a couple of other international students around - do you have any resources for them on how to do the course-by course equivalencies?

Hopefully Kasia will chime in with some advice as well. I believe her original degree was from Poland.

To piggyback on top of this, some universities will honor foreign coursework. I concur with getting a US B.S. as it will just be infinitely easier and take care of the US degree requirements AND post-bacc in one swoop.

However, be sure to meet with an admissions counselor to go over your foreign coursework. You may find yourself not having to do a whole 4 years. Or you may not, but it’s worth a shot.


as you already know it’s OK to ‘just have a green card’ (versus US citizenship) - so one less problem to worry about!

Emergency was right - my original degree was from Poland, and I chose to get another degree in here. I did so for two reasons…and I believe only one of them will apply to you (although I’m not sure!).

First of all I decided to get another degree, since I was told by multiple people that it’s hard (read: almost impossible) to get into med school without having an American degree; but I’m not sure how much of it is ‘a degree from an American University’ versus ‘a degree from an English-speaking University’ (which wouldn’t be an issue for you). But to be safe call some admission offices and ask.

Second reason why I came back to school and ‘restarted’ the entire college career was to be blamed on…European Grading System (I know it’s not only Polish thing, and I believe UK is similar). Many college professors, especially the-old-school folks, would never give you an equivalent of A! No matter how hard you study you can only hope for B+ at best (if it’s your lucky day). On top of that lots of tests were not objective (for example oral examinations), and hardly any exams were standardized! When I evaluated my foreign diplomas/ transcripts, I ended up with GPA way under 3.0, which wouldn’t have taken me too far! I was able to transfer most of the general electives, and thus only needed 2 full-time years (+ a really school-lazy/ full-time-work third year) to get my degree.

I’m not sure how much off all this applies to your situation. Feel free to PM me if you have any further questions.

Good luck and…welcome to OPM.


Guys - great advice - Lots of things I would never have though of. Kasia - I think you are right with the grades, the lofty and dizzy heights of the 90+ % unheard of. My Masters Degree’s top level grade threshold was 65%, which I was just a shade under, but at face value it looks shabby and would not translate well at all.

My feeling is just to get on with a degree. How did your foreign quals translate into the undergraduate degree? Did you get in easily?

In any case I have a meeting to talk with an admissions person from Rutgers to see where my transcripts stand early Jan, so failing a miracle I will be ready to swoop into action getting in on a “new and improved” degree. Adding a few more years to the process, but hey, I’m only a young thing yet!

Thanks everyone, I really feel at home here - up to now I felt that this was my “embarrassing little secret”, not to be talked about in case people would laugh.


[quote=UKMedMom How did your foreign quals translate into the undergraduate degree? Did you get in easily?

As long as you have your transcripts evaluated by acredited organization they should pretty much count in any university. My college accepted most of my general electives like literature, philosophy, psychology, Latin and few others.

I'm not sure what organization I used to evaluate my transcripts. Don't remeber...but I googled them and then called the university and asked if it would work. I guess you can ask the person you're going to talk to if they can suggest an appropriate company.


Dear UK Mom,

Which Rutgers will you be enrolling in for your post-bac courses? I am in the postbac program at Rutgers Newark. Similar personal background. 2 kids. 44 years old.

I took Chem and Anatomy and Phys this past fall semester. I find the quality of teaching very good, the students inspiring in their seriousness, and the lab component of the courses a heck of a lot of work for 1 credit but well worth it.

Let me know if I can be of any help locally.

Sigrid, Thanks for your reply, yes I am looking at Newark - I have an appt with the office next Tuesday to find out if I am a candidate? a Dr Ukachukwu (have you dealt with her? What is she like?) I am very excited! Thanks also for you offer of help. Hopefully I will get in!!!


Dr Ukachukwu (have you dealt with her? What is she like?) I am very excited! Thanks also for you offer of help. Hopefully I will get in!!!

Hi Karen,

Dr. Ukachukwu is at Rutgers New Brunswick and I am at the Newark campus. If you are interested, and for any one else in the area who is looking for a post-bac program, check out the website created by the Newark advisor, Dr. Maiello. He is very approachable and is available to speak by phone. The website has loads of generally useful pre-med information (whether you go to the school or not).